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Flo, Tore Andre (1997-2000)


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Tore Andre Flo (1997-2000)

Written by Gee Bee in June 2007

tore%20andre%20flo%20pen%20pic.jpg Tore Andre Flo has had a checkered career since he entered the world of football in Stryn, his hometown. His roller coaster ride started with Sogndal where he played with his brothers Jostein and Jarle. That ride lasted for one year when the club was relegated from the Norwegian Premier League in 1994. He was instantly transferred to Tromso.

Tore Andre reaped limited success at Tromso in the first season gleaning the tidy sum of 18 goals in the 1995 season to be the leading scorer at that club during that season. That same year Flo burst into the Norwegian national team.

1996 saw Flo move to Bergen to play for Brann where he improved solidly and became one of the best attacking players in Norway. He reaped 28 goals in this season there but 1997 saw the fans growing cold toward him. However, he scored a hat trick in his final game for this club before leaving for Chelsea.

football221%20%28tore%20andre%20flo%29.j In the summer of 1997 Tore Andre Flo, in what some deemed as controversial circumstances, signed for Chelsea for the relatively small transfer fee of £300,000. It was considered to be controversial by some parties as there was a feeling amongst the Brann fans, partially fuelled by a belief that Flo had a gentleman’s agreement with the financially struggling SK Brann that he would not exploit the Bosman status to join another club, that a player of Flo's ability should have commanded a far higher transfer fee. It is notable that, prior to joining Chelsea, Everton had made a more substantial bid (believed to be ten times more than Chelsea's) for his services but a falling out between then manager Joe Royle and the Everton board neutralized any deal that there would have been.

flo%20vs%20betis.jpg Now safe at Stamford Bridge Flo scored on his debut against Coventry in a 2-1 victory and went on to have a good, if not outstanding debut season scoring 15 goals including a hat trick in the 6-1 demolition of Tottenham at White Hart Lane and a brace against Crystal Palace in a 6-2 win. Flo's contribution helped Chelsea to finish fourth in the Premiership, win the League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup, a tournament in which Flo's brace away at Real Betis helped Chelsea knock out the Spanish team at the quarter final stage.

The following season (1998-99) Chelsea, under the managerial leadership of Gianluca Vialli, made a spirited challenge for the title and found themselves at the top for a period. However they were to fall short and finished the season in third position behind Manchester United and Arsenal. Though Flo's playing opportunities were restricted due largely to Vialli’s squad rotation policy, and also the signing of Vialli’s countryman Pierluigi Casaraghi, he still managed ten league goals. This also culminated in Chelsea qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club's history. At the end of this season Flo went to the 1998 FIFA World Cup as part of the Norwegian squad.

celebrating%20flo%20scoruing%20against%2 In the 1999–2000 season Flo was Chelsea's top goalscorer as he netted 19 goals and helped Chelsea win the FA Cup and reach the quarter final of the Champions League. Barcelona were to prove too strong for Chelsea at the quarter final stage however Flo made his mark on the tie by scoring twice at the Bridge leg in a 3 -1 win and once at the Nou Camp leg which Chelsea lost 5 – 1 after extra time.

The 2000 season saw Chelsea under new management with the appointment of Claudio Ranieri and their options up front were reinforced by the signings of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (a prolific scorer) and Eidur Gudjohnsen. This meant that starting opportunities became more limited and, despite promises from the new manager of more regular starts, Flo was, more often than not, confined to the substitutes bench. Flo felt he had no choice but to seek more regular playing time and this meant leaving Chelsea. After making 163 starts for Chelsea and 69 substitute appearances, and contributing 50 goals, Flo, sadly, left the Bridge and signed for Glasgow Rangers.

flo%20rangers.jpg Since the main focus will be on Flo’s career at Chelsea I shall not provide an expansive account of his career at other clubs but restrict it to a brief summation. Tore Andre Flo was sold to Glasgow Rangers in November 2000 for a Rangers record of £12,000,000. This transaction set a number of records namely: the most expensive Norwegian ever, the highest fee paid Scottish Premier player and it still stands as Chelsea's record transfer fee received.

Again, Flo was to have a scoring debut as he helped Rangers thrash arch rivals Celtic 5–1 thrashing of their. In total he scored 40 goals in 80 appearances for Rangers however the Rangers fans never took to him and many felt the £12m was money wasted.

flo%20saunderland.jpg Flo didn't last long in Scottish football and returned to the English Premiership when Sunderland paid £6.75m for him on transfer deadline day at the beginning of the 2002-03 season. This still stands as Sunderland’s record transfer fee paid. Once again Flo was to score on his debut, this time against Manchester United in a 1-1 draw. Flo encountered a tempestuous time at Sunderland after being recruited by Peter Reid who was subsequently sacked. The succeeding managers (Howard Wilkinson and Mick McCarthy) hardly ever gave Flo a look in and he was sent on his way to Siena (Italy) after just a single season at Sunderland.

He arrived at Siena in 2003 and lasted for two seasons before returning to Norway even though his wife and family preferred a return to England. Such were the frustrations of a player who either never settled or better yet, was allowed to settle. Flo fared no better at Valerenga of Oslo where he played from 2005 to 2006 where he incurred a succession of injuries. He was released at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

toreandrefloleeds_195298.jpg His nomadic run then saw him return to England in 2007 when he was signed by former Chelsea captain, and now Leeds United manager, Dennis Wise. He did not score on debut this time but in a return match a week later against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup. However injury again took its toll on Flo and he rarely featured for Leeds in the 2006-07 season.

Finally, I will focus on his international career for Norway. He took his international bow against England in a 0-0 draw and went on to make 76 appearances and and score 23 goals for his country. He formed an international strike partnership with Manchester United's Ole Gunnar Solskjær and was part of the Norwegian squad at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France where he scored in a 2-1 win over holders Brazil. He retired from international football in 2004.

flo%20%28master%29.jpg Such then have been the fortunes, or misfortunes, of a much underrated striker who was never given a chance to really settle at any one club to which he was attached. It is notable that he had the penchant for scoring on debut. One can only be left to ponder what he may have achieved had he been given a fairer chance at any of these clubs.

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